In a game that Manchester City needed to win they came up against a stout Hoffenheim defence. City needed a win after losing their first Champions League game on Matchday One at home to Lyon. They controlled the game and controlled possession trying to break through the Hoffenheim defence. It took until the end but at the death, when they needed him, David Silva was there.
David Silva Comes Up Big Against Hoffenheim
Before the game began most people knew what would happen. With Hoffenheim missing eight players due to injury and a couple only just returning, many expected them to sit deep, a strategy that would allow City to have much of the possession and Hoffenheim would try and hit on the counter. But after the first minute, Hoffenheim were up 1-0.
It was a lovely through ball by Hoffenheim midfielder Kerem Demirbay that set Ishak Belfodil free into an onrushing Ederson. He placed it through the keeper’s legs and into the back of the net for Hoffenheim’s dream start. But from there the siege was on. City got the response they needed quickly.
Another great through ball, this time by David Silva, left Leroy Sane in behind; he forced the keeper to commit before attempting a pass to Aguero. Aguero took it off a defender’s foot and passed into the net for the equalizer. From there, City continued to dominate possession and create more chances but Hoffenheim had a few moments of their own. In the end, it went into half-time at 1-1 with all to play for the second half.
When the second half began it was easy to expect Manchester City to continue to have plenty of possession, and they did. What was not expected was that after 20 minutes, Hoffenheim had created most of the chances. They had multiple forays into the City half and forced a few moments of panic both in the City defence and with Ederson.
This eventually forced Pep Guardiola to bring on John Stones in midfield. That’s right, he brought John Stones on to take control of the midfield. He took off Otamendi and went to a back three with Aymeric Laporte, Vincent Kompany and Kyle Walker with Stones and Fernandinho in front – and it really worked. The Hoffenheim chances dissipated exponentially and it gave great cover whenever one of the centre-backs was dragged out of position.
From that sub on, City dominated the possession even more, poking and prodding at Hoffenheim’s deep defence. They created a few chances, Sane got in behind once or twice and probably should’ve had a penalty when he was bundled over by Baumann. They brought on Riyad Mahrez in the 75th minute in search of a winner until finally City broke the deadlock
Bernardo Silva found the ball on the left wing and whipped a wicked ball into the box that Hoffenheim defender Stefan Prosch took on his chest. But before he could touch the ball David Silva came flying in and stole the ball and blasted it past the keeper for a massive goal. In a game where City really needed points, of course it was one of their stalwarts that came up huge. The Hoffenheim defence were left with their heads in hands.
It was the cherry on top of an outstanding game for David Silva. The City superstar is always great to watch but was just at his exquisite best today. His control is almost unmatched, it felt like no one could get the ball off him all game, only being dispossessed once on the night. He controlled the play and created both of City’s goal-scoring chances.
On a night when Manchester City needed to make up for their loss at home to Lyon they did not come out at their best, but they responded. They controlled the play of the game and handled this Hoffenheim side well. It is important that they continue to build on this performance in future Champions League games. They need to not fall into the form and issues they have had in the Champions League over the last eight years.